See it at the final size – view size and Acrobat: Part 2

A previous Colecandoo article presented a way of being able to control the view size and page presentation of PDFs used as soft-proofs for clients. The solution was to use the Actions tool in Adobe Acrobat to apply an appropriate action that contains the necessary view size/page presentation settings.

This method certainly works, but there is a far more easy method that can be done directly from Adobe InDesign, and that is to export as an interactive PDF.

As a printer that, I had created very little interactive content until recently. I felt that the “Export to Interactive PDF” was only of use for content that contained form fields or other interactive elements, so I had not considered this an option… until now. In fact, this method is much easier than the method described in the previous article. Once again though, this should only be used when a client is checking the content of the PDF only.

To do this, select File/Export (or command + e on a Mac) and from the dialog box, select Adobe PDF (Interactive) from the dropdown list and click Save.

interpic01A new dialog box will appear showing the available options for export, including the view and layout settings.

interpic02If preparing a proof that is to appear as readers spreads, be careful that it is possible to select the same view in two places in this dialog box, with some unwanted consequences.

interpic03To avoid this, use the Two-Up (Cover Page) option available from the Layout dropdown menu, rather than the Spreads option from the Pages/Spreads radio buttons.

The method still needs improvement…

One important note is that unlike the PDF export option for print, there is no way to save export presets for Interactive PDFs. Instead, the options used to last export an interactive PDF are maintained for the next export.

With this in mind, PDFs can also be exported en masse using Peter Kahrel’s batch convert script, but make sure that prior to using the script, one file is correctly exported to interactive PDF before using the script. Peter’s instructions do say this already, but it is worth writing it again.

Tracking Acrobat Revisions without miles of cursor moving

For anyone using an Acrobat markup workflow to take in client alterations, the following scenario may be familiar: Take in one client alteration, tick that it is done, scroll down to the next one, and take in that alteration… or perhaps tick that an alteration is done but not scroll down until all of the alterations that are visible have been done and then scroll down to the next set of untouched alterations.

trackalts1ccombined

For me, this falls into a category of “mildly annoying” when ticking off an alteration, then scrolling a fraction forward to put the next one to the top of the comments list. This escalates to “really annoying” when moving the cursor further to the bottom right of the screen to scroll down further, as instead of scrolling further down, the cursor will:

  • Invoke my Dock to pop up on my mac;
  • Invoke a “hot corner” action on my mac that is set to the bottom right of the screen;
  • Inadvertently open an email alert that pops up via Microsoft Outlook (alerts pop up on the bottom right of the screen).

I could always use the vertical slider to scroll only a fraction downwards, but as I near the end of the corrections, the vertical slider will still be closer to the bottom right hand of the screen.

trackalts1combined

I am unsure whether the comments list can be scrolled through vertically using the click-wheel on a mouse because I am using a stylus, but can say that the pan/scroll button on my stylus will not move vertically through the comments list.

The solution was inspired by an article from Matt Mayerchak and Kelly Vaughn that appeared in Issue 68 of InDesign Magazine titled “PDF Markup Demystified”. It is definitely worth a read if considering Acrobat markups as a workflow, or ways of improving an Acrobat workflow that may already be in use.

The first part of the solution was to do something that I did not think was possible in Adobe Acrobat – undock the comment list.

trackalts2

Doing this allows the list of comments list to appear as a panel that can start and finish at a custom size, and doesn’t limit the list to the bottom right of the screen. In this example, I have moved the comments closer to the left hand side of the artwork.

trackalts3b

The second part of the solution is eluded to in the article but not mentioned directly, and that is the ability to show only comments that are unchecked.

trackalts4 and 5b

It is worth noting that these checked/unchecked options are only available once one comment has been set from unchecked to checked.

trackalts5combined

Once this is done, the moment an alteration marked as checked, the alteration disappears and is replaced by the next unchecked alteration.

trackalts6combined

As a result of undocking the comment list and only showing unchecked alterations, it is now possible to see the current alterations being worked on without having so much cursor “travel time”. It might not seem like much, but for anyone using this workflow who may see 200-400 edits per PDF, that’s a lot of time that can be saved.

See it at the final size – view size and Acrobat

A previous post has discussed issues with PDF proofing for issues relating to quality.

If checking content only, PDF proofs can be an efficient way of checking content, given that hard copy proofs do not have to be created or delivered to the client. If the client also has the latest version of Acrobat Reader, PDF proofing also allows alterations or markups to be made on the PDF proof.

One feature I would like to be able to control in InDesign when preparing the PDF is how the PDF should appear on the client’s screen. Adding bookmarks and other interactive elements to a PDF is fine, but ultimately for the creation of content that is for other purposes rather than a print-proof, these features are not necessary.

It is possible to control the security settings of the PDF:

security

But what cannot be controlled from InDesign is the size and page presentation of the PDF. When viewing a PDF in Adobe Acrobat, the file will appear at the size and presentation options that are in the client’s defaults (from the Preferences/General menu).

pdfpreferences

There are occasions where checking a PDF at the correct size and presentation are important, such as:

  • Seeing pages that feature cross-overs in a readers spread;
  • Seeing the artwork at the finished size (e.g. can reveal if type sizes are too big or small)

pizzafullsize

pizzasmall

In the example above, a pizza recipe is prepared on a business card. Using the default view to check the PDF, all looks good, but when viewed to the true output (final size when printed) size, it looks like a recipe card for ants!

These view settings cannot be controlled by InDesign, but can be controlled in Acrobat Professional. While a PDF is open, the options can be found under the File/Properties menu.

pdfinitialview

These initial view settings can be changed (as well as whether or not to display other features such as bookmarks etc), the file saved and closed. Once the file is opened again, the PDF will view to the settings that were changed in the preferences. That is fine if changing one file, but if changing dozens at once, or wishing to change the view permanently, this is not an ideal solution.

Solution: The Action Wizard

Instead, the view settings can be changed using the Action Wizard. If unsure where the action wizard is, open any PDF to show the side tabs, and then click on the Tools tab, then check the Action Wizard option.

findaction

To create a new action, click the Create New Action button. Once clicked, a new dialog box will appear. Since the initial view needs to be changed, go to the Document Processing tab and select the Set Open Options button.

setopenoptions

The following example would save a file so that it displayed as readers spreads to fit the screen.

makeaction1

The following example would save a file so that it displayed at 1:1 size.

makeaction2

Just like the File/Properties menu, there are more features that can be changed, such as what side tabs to open, whether or not menus or icons should appear.

There is also the ability to change many files other than an open file, as well as what to do with the resulting files. This is done by changing the “Start with” or “Save to” dropdown fields.

whattodowithaction

When all the relevant settings are made, click Save. A dialog box will prompt for a name and description of the action so it can be found later.

saveaction

The action is now added to the list of available actions, with the last action used at the top of the list.

Voila! A solution now exists to change the views without lots of navigation through dialog boxes.

 

Never, ever, EVER tick this checkbox when making a PDF!

A rather obscure and never before used checkbox in the export PDF dialog box has caused great concern for one particular reader, and that was the ability to create a PDF that has visible guides and grids.

To illustrate what happens, the following example will be used. Take the front of this flyer for a band, and note the gridlines in InDesign.

notthebutton1

The flyer is ready to be sent to the client so a PDF needs to be made. For the purpose of this demonstration, the [High Quality Print] setting that is one of the default presets for Adobe InDesign will be used, with one exception: The checkbox at the bottom “Visible Guides and Grids”

notthebutton2

The PDF is now created but unlike other PDFs, the guides and grids are not only visible, but will end up on the final print as well! The illustration shows that the guidelines can be selected with third party tools such as Enfocus Pitstop Professional.

notthebutton3

In this reader’s case, the checkbox was clicked mistakenly and fortunately for them, the eagle-eyed prepress staff that were about to print the artwork had noticed the lines and fixed the situation accordingly. However, the issue had highlighted several important points:

There are many features of InDesign that are somewhat obscure and would be used rarely, but is there really anyone out there that would ever feel the need to show their clients the grids and columns on a PDF, yet alone output them to a print-ready PDF?

Only instance that comes to mind would be a client that insists items on a proof are not lining up. Using this feature (with the appropriate gridline in the file) would create a PDF that would show the client that in fact the items do line up as intended… but is this a situation that arises often enough to warrant such a button in the export options?

Reader thoughts are definitely welcome on this topic!

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